Thursday, September 15, 2011

Bon Anniversaire My Cooking Love Affair!: Ratatouille

It's officially been a year since I started my cooking adventures and it has changed my life for the better. I've cried tears of joy, screamed in panic and laughed my ass off and I love every minute of it. Don't worry!  I'm not even close to being done. I'd like to thank my mom, Ryan and my friends for being my taste testers and being brutally honest. Ryan who was a strictly burgers, pizza and hot dogs guy- finally eats (and constantly requests) lemon chicken! 

This adventure has led me to meeting so many people. This summer, I had the opportunity of working with Chef Gale Gand as her PR/Social Media Intern, which was/and still is so much fun. (I'll be posting her pesto sauce soon!) 

I learned one thing this year. Do what you love and happiness will come. 

Ratatouille is actually the first dish I made by myself in the kitchen, before I decided to start the cooking blog project. I had gone to the farmers market with Jen and Gwen and bought a bunch of vegetables that I had no idea what to do with. I called my mom a lot during the early kitchen days (still do when all hell breaks loose). My mom suggested trying to making Ratatouille. 

I was a dork and spent an hour trying to chop all the vegetables perfectly like the directions said in 1/2 inch pieces. Then once I started putting things in the pot- I called my mom every 10 minutes, to go over the steps again and to be reassured that if I turned the heat up to medium that the contents weren't going to suddenly blow up all over my kitchen. 

Luckily, I didn't blow up my kitchen. It came out perfectly and I was so proud of myself. My friends loved it and I explained to them about my battle in the kitchen. They encouraged me and said that I should think about writing about my silly adventures. I have learned to go with the flow and not worry if I mess a step up because with cooking there usually is almost always a quick fix. Baking, not so much though-haha. There will always be bad recipes, and really fantastic ones. 

But that's life, and I really like where this adventure is taking me. So as I said last year, watch out kitchen here I come. Happy Birthday My Cooking Love Affair! The adventure has only just begun.

A girl can dream right? (Mom said I need to work on putting my shoulders back! Mothers!)

PS- YOU DO NOT NEED TO PERFECTLY CHOP THE VEGETABLES!! If you do a rough chop, so the veggies are around the same size- you are good. 

PPS- There were no rat helpers in the making of this dish...thank god! 

Mom's Ratatouille

Cut into 1/2 inch cubes:1 medium eggplant
Toss the cubes with 
Set the cubes in colander to drain for about 20 minutes.

Heat in a heavy bottomed pot:
2 tablespoons olive oil

Pat the eggplant dry, add to the pan, and cook over medium heat, stirring frequently, until golden.  Add a bit more oil if the eggplant absorbs all the oil and sticks to the bottom of the pan.  Remove the eggplant when done and set aside.Pour in:
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 medium onions, cut into 1/2 inch dice
Cook for about 7 minutes , or until soft and translucent.
4 to 6 garlic cloves, chopped
1/2 bunch of basil, tied in a bouquet with kitchen twine
a pinch of dried chili flakes

Cook for 2 or 3 minutes, then stir in:

2 sweet peppers ( red ,yellow or green), cut into 1/2 inch dice

Cook for a few minutes, the add:

2-3 medium summer squash (zucchini and yellow squash), cut into 1/2 inch dice

Cook for a few more minutes, then stir in:

3 ripe medium tomatoes, cut into 1/2 inch dice

Cook for 10 minutes longer, then stir in the eggplant and cook for 10 to 15 minutes more, until all the vegetables are soft.  Remove the bouquet of basil, pressing on it to extract all of it's flavors, and adjust the seasoning with salt.

Stir in:

6 basil leaves, chopped
Extra virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon fresh thyme or 1  teaspoon dried)

2 teaspoons balsamic or red wine vinegar
1-2 teaspoons tomato paste concentrate from tube

Serve warm or cold. 

Wendy's (my mom) tip: Always best the next day. 

Bon App├ętit!

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